Is Homeownership the American Dream?

Presidents have long argued for maximizing American homeownership. From FDR’s belief that a nation of homeowners cannot be conquered to G.W. Bush’s belief that homeownership can transform people, and every president in between, American Presidents consistently encourage homeownership. The thought process being the more rooted in the community a family is, the more invested in society as a whole. Therefore, the U.S. encourages homeownership through significant public policy initiatives.

It is not just the Government that perpetuates this goal, but individual Americans as well. Though not necessarily highlighting the same positive effects. For individual Americans, homeownership is a tangible investment. It is historically profitable and is perceived as a convenience – if you have to pay to live somewhere, why not pay into your own investment? If the Government also offers tax benefits and other incentives, why rent?

Over the last two decades, municipalities have invested significant capital in rehabilitating cities to attract commerce. As businesses flocked to cities offering incentives, the cycle of job creation and housing followed. Suburbs, the once king of American culture at the end of the 20th century, lost homebuyers who preferred to be located in a city even if it meant renting. In the midst of this transition, the U.S. entered the Great Recession which put a significant amount of residential construction companies out of business. This ensured the next decade on would see a supply and demand issue arise.    

On the heels of a second financial crisis in just over a decade, U.S. homebuying is taking a different turn than it did after the Great Recession. Have potential and reality finally met the moment? The collision between technological capacity to bring people together and the remote environments sparked a massive moment of pause and reflection on the current water cooler system. With the COVID Pandemic pushing businesses to keep nonessential employees working from home, businesses are seeing potential savings in office rent costs. As employees spend more time at home, they realize their ties to their locations were not as strong as they thought, and many have decided to move. Big city renters are now buying suburban housing so much so 2020 and 2021 saw housing sales and appreciation skyrocket. Are they finally accessing the American Dream? Does the American Dream evolve into owning and working from your home? The next decade will likely determine the future of the American Dream.

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